Manhattan Prosecutors Considering Criminal Charges Against Trump Organization
The Manhattan District’s Office is considering criminal charges against the Trump Organization in connection with Michael Cohen‘s hush money payment to adult film actress Stormy Daniels, who claims she had an affair with President Donald Trump, the New York Times reported.
Cohen, former longtime lawyer and fixer for Trump, pleaded guilty to multiple counts of campaign finance violations and federal tax evasion charges on Tuesday. Manhattan district’s attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., is now considering wether Cohen has violated state tax law, an inquiry that would be unrelated to the federal tax charges.
The president has discussed pardoning some of his aides facing federal charges, but he would not have the authority to pardon people or corporate entities who are convicted of state crimes.
Vance may go after the Trump Organization and two senior company officials for how that payment was handled. The identities of the two senior officials reportedly being targeted in the Manhattan D.A.’s inquiry were not clear. According to the Business Insider, observers pointed to Allen Weisselberg, the Trump Organization’s chief financial officer, as likely to be one of the two.
The Trump Organization reimbursed Cohen for paying off Daniels, saying that it was a “legal expense.” Federal prosecutors said the reimbursement payments were for sham legal invoices. Cohen testified under oath this week that the payment was made with the intent of buying Daniels’s silence.
According to court papers from the plea deal on Tuesday, the Trump Organization paid Cohen $420,000 to reimburse him for the Daniels payment as well as taxes, a bonus and other campaign expenses reimbursements. Cohen also issued monthly invoices for $35,000 as “pursuant to retainer agreement” to the Trump Organization.
“In truth and in fact, there was no such retainer agreement, and the monthly invoices Cohen submitted were not in connection with any legal services he had provided in 2017,” prosecutors in Cohen’s case said, according to Business Insider.